Friday, 18 October 2013

Sport the difference, and motivating exercise programmes

What’s the difference between the sports in column A and those in column B?

Take a few minutes to think about it while we tell you how we think most exercise programmes in most gyms could be improved.

Nearly every workout programme card that includes some cardiovascular exercises reads something like this:
  • 5 minutes warm-up on the bike
  • 10 minutes treadmill, speed x, incline y
  • 10 minutes elliptical, resistance z
  • 2km* rower, resistance z
  • 5 minutes warm-down on the bike
* the rower is sometimes time bound as well, i.e. row for 10 minutes, but for some reason it is sometimes set-up as a distance goal, perhaps because it is easier to program on the concept II which nearly everyone uses.

Time bound targets are okay, especially as many members have a limited time to spend in the gym, so they like to know how long their workout will take. But distance targets are much better for measuring and progressing towards a fitness goal. After all, who heard of these Olympic disciplines – the 2 hour race, 30 minute race, 4 minute race, or the Blue Riband event, the 10 second sprint, where competitors have to get the furthest in the allocated time?

Here’s three reasons why distance is better than time on an exercise programme:
  1. We are better at remembering times than distances. Run 2km, and you’ll know if you did it quicker than last week, and might share the time with a friend. Run for 10 minutes and it’s harder to remember the distance each week
  2. Progress means you are going faster, not further. When you have progressed enough for a programme review, or just a review of your goals, you can increase the distance. 
  3. It helps those members (we've all seen them) who may be sitting on the bike going quite slowly. They will gain time if they (put the magazine down, and) focus on completing the workout. Over time, they’ll make more progress towards their goals and workout more effectively.
When setting your next member's exercise programme, choose distance, not time.

So the difference between the sports above – column A shows sports that are time bound, so whoever has the best score when the time is up is the winner. Column B shows sports where the distance is the goal, and whoever gets there first (in the best time) is the winner.


Anonymous said...


Guy Griffiths said...

Same to you, Maru!
No, we could put golf in column B...